A1 fight has just begun

A CONSERVATIVE campaigner has said that the fight to dual the A1 in Northumberland is only just beginning after a Tory peer admitted that it would not happen for a ‘long time’.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who founded the A1 Action Group in 2008, claimed that having the road declared a route of strategic national importance was only stage one and now a strong case for dualling can be developed.

In the House of Lords last week, John Attlee, a transport spokesman, made his concession in response to a question from North East Labour peer Jeremy Beecham.

Earl Attlee was asked about how the abolition of the regional development agencies will help transport issues that have a regional dimension such as the dualling of the A1.

Lord Beecham also asked him about plans for the A1 which he said appear ‘to have been shelved for a very long period.’

Earl Attlee said: “We have made a start, in that the A1 is now on the strategic route network and is therefore managed by the Highways Agency, although it will still be a long time before it is dualled.”

Responding to this announcement, Mrs Trevelyan said: “The campaign is going to be focusing hard on the strategic and economic evidence for widening the A1.

“There isn’t any money for the next couple of years but we need to make sure that when the funds become available we are at the top of the list.”

Mrs Trevelyan has recently been in discussions with Northumbria Police over safety issues on the A1, which does not cause enough deaths a year to guarantee an upgrade.

She said: “All of us who use it and the transport logistics industry, who avoid it, know that it’s the road with probably the highest number of near misses in the country.

“Never provide a civil servant with a problem, provide him with a solution.

“We need to show it is so important not just for Northumbrians, not just for the region but for the country as a whole.”

Sir Alan Beith MP said: “Dualling the A1 will have to be done in stages and the present financial crisis is making it more difficult to make a start on the more urgent sections.

“Dualling the entire A1 between Morpeth and the Scottish Border would be a huge project and there simply is not the money available.

“I am pushing for the work to be done in sections, starting with the most dangerous stretches at Mousen and between Felton and Morpeth where plans have already been developed, and have recently raised this again with the Transport Minister.”